WHARTON, NJ – An off-duty police chief and a borough officer saved the life of a Wharton man who was found unresponsive and sitting in a Jeep on West Dewey Avenue last month, police said.

The incident began March 18 at 12:49 p.m. when police received a call about the man and the Jeep, police said. Wharton Police Officer Sean Maher went to the scene and found that off-duty Demarest Police Chief James Powderley was already there, they said.

Police said Powderley was driving on West Dewey Avenue when he came across the Jeep that was stopped in the road. The chief “turned around to see if the driver needed assistance,” and, upon reaching the Jeep “realized that the driver was unresponsive and the vehicle was still in gear with the driver’s foot on the brake pedal.”

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Afraid the car would begin moving, possibly into oncoming westbound traffic, if its unresponsive driver’s foot came off the pedal, Powderley pulled his car in front of the vehicle, said police.

When Maher got there, he found Powderley attempting to get into the locked Jeep, said police. Maher used an extrication bar to break the Jeep’s passenger side front window so he and the chief could get to the driver who wasn’t breathing, police said.

“Chief Powderley and Officer Maher removed the driver and were unable to locate a pulse,” police said. “Chief Powderley immediately began CPR while Officer Maher prepared the AED (defibrillator).”

The two policemen continued to work on the Jeep’s driver, with Maher administering the AED and Powderely continuing CPR, until the arrival of an ambulance from Saint Clare’s Hospital Medical Unit and Ambulance Squad. The driver was taken to Saint Clare’s Hospital in Denville for treatment.

“The driver survived the incident is reported to be improving,” said police.